Glass technology provides glass that is specially designed to create beautifully stylish homes and buildings. Besides the pleasing aesthetics, functionality and safety measures are included and various types of glass provide protection and toughness.
Glass can play a very important role in stopping the flames from spreading during a fire and offers protection from the heat. Increasingly wildfires are also a problem globally and during one of these, the correct windows can resist high temperatures, protecting your home from any broken glass that will also allow the fire to enter and ignite flammable materials, of which homes have plenty.
Various incidents in the past ensured that fire laws were changed to protect people around their homes and in public spaces. Glass applications were also changed, and one of the most recognized glass products that were used in buildings for over a century was the glass embedded with wire mesh. This was a relatively cheap glass available in both textured and clear but had a very low impact standard.
This polished wire glass has caused many injuries over the years and can be a liability problem for owners of properties. In fact, in 2013 the Kent (WA) Unified School District paid out a settlement of $2 million for an incident where a student was injured in a wired glass accident.
In order to prevent any potential legal issues, many building owners and contractors are replacing these with the more advanced and stronger fire-resistant glass products with safety that outperforms anything available before.
Types of fire-rated glass
As opposed to standard tempered glass, which shatters around 500° F, fire-rated glass undergoes a special manufacturing process that can withstand over 1500° F, reducing the risk of injuries and even death in the event of a fire.
Extensive testing has led to glass products that can not only withstand extreme heat but also sudden changes in temperature, experienced when cold water suddenly sprays on it from sprinklers or fire hoses.
Previously, fire-rated glass was made with wire embedded into it; this is not as safe as the ceramic glass fire-rated glazing used today. Building compliance requires that designers and builders maintain the stringent safety standards of the fire codes and regulations of the various regions.
Does fire-rated glass really provide safety to your home against a possible fire?
Glass fire doors with excellent quality fire-rating and framework can provide up to 120 minutes of insulation and integrity in the event of a fire. With the minimal framework and silicone-jointed systems, it will be a maximum of 60 minutes.
In this context, integrity means how long the smoke and flames from a fire can be contained beyond the glass so that its spread can be contained. On the other hand, insulation refers to the amount of time that the building will be protected from heat radiation from a fire, giving people time to evacuate.
Class E glass offers integrity only, Class EW offers integrity and some heat resistance and the highest level of protection is the Class EI. Glass with an EI120 means that its integrity and insulation will last 120 minutes.
Important things to note before installing fire rated glass
Good fire protection should include a combination of glass screens and doors, sprinklers and warning systems. However, fire-resistant glass is effective, even when there is no electricity, whereas all other systems cannot function without it. Also, fire-resistant glass can effectively protect an area, even when there are no other systems in place.
Correct fire safety implementation requires some homework:
1. Correct positioning of screen and doors
When architects design a home or building, they will consider local guidelines, which usually demand that fire-rated glass is, used in common areas, along with escape routes and for staircases. Firefighters must also have easy access to the building during an emergency.
2. Use of the correct glass
All the areas mentioned above must be fitted with fire-rated glass to ensure that the protection strategy is correctly in place and no other substitutes can offer the same protection. Areas, where fire protection is not as vital, can have ordinary glass windows and screens fitted.
3. Select correct fire rating
Depending on whether the home or building is in a higher risk area and how many people would need to be evacuated, the performance of the glass chosen could be anything from 20 minutes to 120 minutes of remaining intact if exposed to fire. Thermally insulated framework provides the longest performance time as opposed to silicone jointed systems that are frameless. These would provide 60 minutes.
4. Importance of safety testing
Testing ensures that the glass can withstand the extremely high temperature generated during a fire, but that it can also withstand the pressure and thermal shock from a fire hose.
5. Correct fitting
Fire-glass fitting must always be done by a professional and not by you or any other friend. Professional glass fitters will ensure that they are correctly positioned to offer protection from the flames and smoke from a fire.
How much does it cost to install this type of safety glass?
It is more expensive to have fire-rated glass installed and prices depend on the fire rating class of the glass. Choosing products according to the safety requirements for the various applications in each area can bring the cost down. However, the benefits of having fire-resistant glass installed cannot be ignored. These include:
- Safety is enhanced, something very important for you and your family.
- In the event of a fire, the damage to your property will be minimized.
- Fire-rated glass is also impact-resistant.
- It allows for limitless design opportunities in living spaces and buildings.
- IT decreases operational costs because it allows natural light in and conserves energy by reducing heat loss.
You can buy fire-resistant glass at Fab Glass and Mirror where our experts can assist you to choose the correct product to meet the safety requirements of your home or business. They know how to measure according to the requirements of your designer and will professionally install these to ensure that maximum safety is achieved.